Accomplishments under this priority are relatively straightforward to measure, and we have seen a lot of positive progress.
An Environment in which Diverse Students Complete Degrees and Realize Aspirations with Minimal Financial Burden
We have improved our 4-year and 6-year graduation rates significantly, as seen below.
Graduation rates for Full-time, Beginner Bachelor’s degree seekers:
- 4-year rate for 2006 cohort = 4.7%
- 4 year rate for 2015 cohort = 32.6%
- 6-year rate for 2006 cohort = 24.9%
- 6-year rate for 2013 cohort = 39.8%
Student Loan Default
We have seen great success in lowering our student loan default rates, which were the highest of the regional campuses, and approaching the range where we were at risk of losing our ability to offer federal financial aid. The table below shows how far we have come in the last several years, where the rate went from a high of 20.2% for the 2011 cohort down to 7.4% for the 2017 cohort.
Source: UIRR: Financial Aid: Loan Default Rates: Default Rate Comparisons
Student Debt Upon Graduation
In addition to student loan default, another important metric regarding affordability is the amount of student debt upon graduation. Due to factors such as our emphasis on financial literacy, the average bachelor loan debt (among those who borrowed) in constant/inflation-adjusted dollars has dropped from $29,542 in 2015-16 to $22,024 in 2019-20.
Source: UIRR: Facts & Figures: Financial Aid: Graduates’ Debt Comparisons
Number of Degrees Awarded
Over the time frame of the Strategic Plan, we have increased the number of degrees awarded from 626 in 2013-14 to 870 in 2019-20. This means that we are successfully serving more students, and it is also an important metric in Indiana’s performance funding formula.
Source: UIRR: Facts & Figures: Outcomes: Degree Completions, IPEDS reporting
Enrollment is a continuing challenge in the current environment, as our region is characterized by a population that is dropping and aging. Nonetheless, IU East has still grown over the course of our strategic plan. Total heads have gone from 3612 in Fall 2013 to a high of 3766 in Fall 2019 (these numbers exclude ACP students, but include all students, not just degree-seeking). Credit Hours have gone from 36,158 in Fall 2013 to 36,812 in Fall 2019 (Source: UIRR: Enrollment: Office/First Day Headcounts and Hours Internal: Enrollment Trends). Note that Fall 2020 (COVID-19 pandemic) saw a drop in headcount and hours from 2019’s high (3,434 heads and 36,202 credit hours).
In terms of first-time beginners coming from directly from high school, the population drop in our region is a challenge. We have used this as an opportunity to think creatively about how to increase our applicants and enrollment. External Affairs and the Office of Admissions collaborated to develop and implement a “12-School Plan” that is focused on schools in our service area (including Ohio) that are relatively “untapped.” The initiative includes billboards featuring local athletes placed in particular communities, IUE “swag boxes” given to area teachers who are IU East alumni (more than 400 in our service area), bringing local high school bands to athletic games, bringing youth teams to our games, etc. We are already seeing the fruits of these efforts with increased enrollment from schools such as Centerville, as well as increased enrollment of local valedictorians and salutatorians. We also engaged Royall (now EAB) to work in partnership with us to increase enrollment. We also have implemented an arrangement between Western Wayne School District and Northeastern School district for a pilot program to increase educational attainment in our region. The agreement creates an early pathway to IU East for college track juniors and seniors in these districts. Students are transported to campus to take IU East classes, thus developing a relationship with the campus, providing an introduction to the college environment, stimulating learning, and encouraging future academic achievement.
Another initiative to grow our student population is through athletics. We invested in our minor sports to build those teams, and we also started Men’s and Women’s indoor track and field as well as Men’s and Women’s soccer. The number of athletes grew to ca. 200 in Fall 2019. Athletes tend to be academically strong students who graduate on time (and they may be recruited from outside our service area). We also have data to show that even if some choose not to continue with athletics after some time at IU East, they still remain as students on campus, thus contributing to overall enrollment.
We have also increased our enrollment of traditionally under-represented minority students, which has been growing steadily, from 9.7% of our degree-seeking population in 2014 to 17.7% in fall 2020, a record high. This percentage of minority students exceeds the percentage in our service region. Some of this increased diversity may also be reflected in the NSSE Survey question that asks whether students have engaged in “Discussion with Diverse Others.” For Freshmen, in 2014 the mean score on this question was 34.3%, rising steadily to 40.9% in 2018. With respect to diverse students, there is still much opportunity to improve, however, particularly in the success rates of different student populations.
Source: UIRR: Facts & Figures: Enrollment: Diversity: Externally Comparable
Retention is an important aspect of enrollment, and an area where it has been hard to move the needle. Our fall-to-fall retention of first-time beginner bachelor’s degree seekers has remained relatively steady, with some fluctuations within a relatively small range, despite our many initiatives. However, we were pleased to see an increase in the retention rate for the fall 2019 cohort:
Retention rates for Full-time, Beginner Bachelor’s degree seekers:
- Retained to 2nd year (fall-to-fall), 2013 cohort retained to fall 2014 = 63.1%
- Retained to 2nd year (fall-to-fall), 2019 cohort retained to fall 2020 = 66.7%
We believe this improvement reflects some of our recent initiatives to streamline and consolidate advising services. These initiatives were prompted by our participation in the HLC Student Success Academy, and have included a number of changes in Academic Affairs related to advising structure with the intention to enhance the consistency of the student experience. For example, University College (“UCOL”) was restructured so that it now serves students beyond the first year, and its new name is the Office of Student Success. We also appointed a Director of Advising, and advisors from the schools of Humanities & Social Sciences, Business & Economics, and Natural Science & Mathematics now report to this director. Specialized advising in the School of Education and the School of Nursing & Health Sciences remain in those schools.
Physical Build-out of the Campus
Another area of focus under this strategic priority is to continue the physical build-out of the campus, ensuring that the campus is physically welcoming for our students. The most significant accomplishment has been the construction of the Student Events Center (opened 2016; our first new building since 1994), followed by the Whitewater Lobby renovation (2017), and the construction of the Arts Annex (2017).
In addition, we also accomplished the following projects during this time period:
- renovated the Quad
- added 70 spaces to the Hayes Hall parking lot
- renovated and named the First Bank Richmond Community Room
- renovated Athletics office suite and External Affairs suite
- renovated the Admin & Finance/Academic Affairs administrative suite to allow the inclusion of Human Resources in that space
- constructed an active learning collaborative classroom in Springwood
- installed our first outdoor sculptures (we are now on the third round)
- constructed a multi-modal path from Chester Blvd into campus (student safety)
- built a bridge from Springwood Hall to the Student Events Center
- constructed additional all gender restrooms and a wellness room for nursing mothers in Hayes Hall
- renovation of Vivian Auditorium
- constructed student group study rooms in the Information Commons
- IT Infrastructure: network upgrade on track, supported in part by a successful application for Certified Tech Park funds from the City of Richmond ($100,000)
- remodel of library space for the Center for Faculty Development
- remodel of library space for the Community Engagement Commons